The U.S. unemployment rate was recently announced at 3.7 percent making it the lowest since 1969. A few may remember 1969. Most will not. Wisconsin's unemployment rate has been reported at 3 percent or lower for eight straight months. It is not uncommon for some Wisconsin counties to report unemployment rates under two percent. St. Croix's is at a modest 2.4 percent for September.
We can thank a former president and military general, Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower, for the U.S. interstate highway system. Eisenhower was inspired by Germany's efficient highway system he witnessed as a general during World War II. His support led to the passage of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which secured funding for America's first 41,000 miles of the interstate system.
Coaching has changed dramatically since the Vincent Thomas "Vince" Lombardi football era in Green Bay. He was a tough-as-nails, no nonsense guy. As the late Packer Henry Jordan reportedly said, "Lombardi treats us all the same - like dogs." Lombardi's mantra was, "Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing." It seems scoreboards are erected at playing fields for a reason.
In May 2014, Naval Admiral William H. (Bill) McRaven gave the commencement address at the University of Texas. McRaven brought an enviable pedigree — himself a grad of the University of Texas, a 35+ year Navy SEAL, and later, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. He also designed the SEAL raid that took out Osama bin Laden. Wow.
In the St. Croix Valley, neighbor may be pitted against neighbor when the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings play football twice a year. Of course there's always the odd family who cheers for the Chicago Bears, further adding to the rivalries in the valley. Green Bay fans may be unaware, but an ancient Viking game, now adapted as a lawn game, is growing in popularity right here in Packerland. In fact, nearby Eau Claire, Wisconsin lays claim as the game's North American Capital.
There are fewer things hotter in the St. Croix Valley than home sales. Sellers may receive multiple offers, and in some cases, exceeding the list price. Home builders are part of this hot market, too. As fast as they can be built, new homes are sold and crews move on to the next one, just like in the good old days.
Even with a winter that woudn't go quietly away, baseball and other spring sports are finally underway. Sort of. Young men found places indoors to hit baseballs into nets or off tees. On those dreary days of 35 degree temperatures and a steady rain, a baseball game may still be contested. Even avid fishermen (women) would likely have packed it in for another day.
John F. Kennedy started a tradition in 1963 as the first U.S. President to designate a National Small Business Week. Fifty-five years later, the proclamations continues as a way to recognize the important contributions of entrepreneurs and small business owners. This year's Small Business Week is set for April 29-May 5 and includes statewide celebrations to honor the likes of a family-owned small business winner, a young entrepreneur, a small business person of the year, a minority small business champion, and small business subcontractor of the year.
With life's hectic pace, very few consumers pay attention to receipts from retailers. Clearly noted at the bottom of a receipt is a reference to "state tax" and "local tax." Wisconsin collects a sales and use tax of 5 percent and almost all of the 72 counties impose an additional half-of-a-percent tax. St. Croix County's optional tax has been on the books for decades. Other counties are still coming to the party. Brown County began its half-cent tax on Jan. 1, 2018 and Calumet will begin collecting on April 1.
Whether it's East L.A. or East Overshoe, there may be occasional coffee shop chatter that your community is on the brink. First, don't believe it. And second, find inspiration in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In early 2011, Newsweek magazine published a list of America's dying cities. Grand Rapids, sometimes referred to as Bland Rapids, made the unenviable list. Seven years later, Rand McNally and even satellite intel suggest Grand Rapids is alive, well, and thriving.